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May 19, 2012

Five Things Helping Walker in Wisconsin

Looking at the situation in the Badger state, I noticed five things that we here would never see going well for a Republican just a few short years ago, and all of which are impacting the race (so far) in Walker's favor. The obvious helper, evidence in reports on the deficit and jobs, and a big shift in public opinion on collective bargaining, helped him enormously. But these items are rocketing him across the finish line (again, to avoid jinxing it, so far):


1) The polls.
Polls this close to an election have an effect. Everyone, including myself, was expecting at least some bounce for Barrett after the primary. The Democratic party had their candidate, their primary wasn't particularly nasty, so how much was Barrett going to benefit post-race?

Let Willy Wonka tell you what he got.

Walker, not Barrett, enjoyed a bounce- one that continued all through this week to a point where many outlets are now wording him as "leading" or "ahead" as opposed to "in a tight race" or "tie". The wording matters just as much, but let's look at the polls. Each one came like a punch to the Barrett gut: 5 points by Rasmussen. Ok, they poll heavily for the Republicans right? Then We Ask America, implying that lead had exploded to 9 points. They're biased too, right? Then came PPP's poll for Daily Kos, showing an even greater edge of enthusiasm for the Republicans. The 'bias' balloon embraced by some began to leak severely, and landed aflame somewhere in Lakehurst New Jersey with Marquette's poll showing yet another lead for Walker on Wednesday. Thanks to the news cycle, these polls have an even bigger effect on the minds of voters, as the reporting of the polls was staggered by various agencies. Several news sites tonight were reporting the MULaw poll as "new" when it was released over 48 hours ago. For the average voter, every other poll story was "Walker up in new poll".

This won't last, as there will be some agency out there trying to make the race more exciting, thumbing the scale to push a "tied" poll. Democrats have started rumors that "internal" polling still show a tie, but "internal" polls by McCain showed him tied in PA, and the same "internals" showed Coakley tied with Scott Brown just before the election in Massachusetts. We all know how accurate those wound up being. Still, expect at least ONE bad poll for Walker next week. Polls constantly showing him ahead won't sell papers.

2- Liberals who fear (and have feared) a never-ending cycle of this crap.

As the costs of these recall races continue to pile up, and as the implications of "endless recalls" grow in some academic minds, we find editorials like this by Professor Jonathan Zimmerman of New York University. In it he goes at length to express his disgust with Walker's actions, but the dangerous precedent recalling him would set, and harkens back to a similar effort in 1983 against then-mayor Dianne Feinstein:

I'm not comparing Walker to Washington or Madison or Lincoln. But Wisconsin voters should let him serve out his term, just as Feinstein did three decades ago. "She was guilty of neither crime nor incompetence," the San Francisco Examiner wrote in 1983 after voters rejected the effort to recall Feinstein. "The people recognize the injustice of it, and the offense to the process of democracy."

Let's hope Wisconsinites come to the same wise conclusion, no matter what they think of their governor.


Built into Walker's "lead" is a small chunk of those opposing him but more opposed to the $64 million wasted on self-defeating silliness.

3- Leftists who really, really want Act 10 eliminated and realize Barrett won't do anything, especially with (at best for them) a split legislature.

Those dedicated liberals and progressives who are in it for the long haul to preserve union power may try doing so in a real election year and without wasting more cash on what the aforementioned polling seems to indicate is a lost cause. The more on the opposition who feel this way, the safer Walker's job becomes.

4- GOTV. In 2008, we lamented the horrible state of the Republican GOTV efforts. Obama's were almost admirable in complexity and effectiveness. Reince Priebus ran Wisconsin's GOP up until 2011 and started a shift in the state's apparatus concerning reaching its voters. The cheeses in charge now have built upon that and unleashed a beast that would have the most Carvillian Democrat envious: well over a million contacts, endless names of recall-signers (thereby avoiding wasted calls), thousands of volunteers and grass roots activists joining in on an unprecedented scale. What the Democrats and leftist activists had hoped to see for their side has become their worst nightmare. This late in the game, launching as big an operation as what WisGOP has created is simply impossible. MoveOn.org, DailyKos, and other progressive organizations and sites are going to try to push a last minute contact operation, but it will fail to approach the size of what Walker's allies have pulled off.

5- Time.

Barrett has, effectively, 9 days to actually change the dynamic of this race. Why 9? Weekend tune-outs by most voters, the three-day weekend coming up, and the Monday before election day itself gives no time to really impact the news cycle. So he has Monday through Friday May 21-25, then Tuesday May 29th to June 1st. If he can't move the needle 4 days before doomsday, it's effectively over. Nine days can still be a long time, particularly if a story catches fire, but it would need to do so NOW to build momentum over a media week. John Doe won't be enough as much of it is already out there and the political leanings of those digging are known enough to make any last-second GOTCHA politically obvious, even for the most clueless voter. The jobs report came and went, as did the deficit report. What else does he have this close to the day of reckoning, and without national party support?

6- Ok I cheated, there are six big things, and this is the biggest: unprecedented unity in the Republican base. Walker will easily approach mid-90s support amongst Republicans on election day. There are always those "Republicans" or
"Democrats" who either a) don't actually exist, just opposition trying to throw off a pollster or b) have had their party "leave them" so they vote for the other team without changing registration. That Walker has virtually every card-carying GOP member backing him is also critical in the closing days, especially if things tighten. Recalls become successful when anger or disgust WITHIN a political party is strong enough to splinter the recall-ee's base. Whatever splintering his reforms may have caused early on is water under the bridge. There is a sense amongst them that this election is more important nationally than it may even be for them as residents of the state. That Walker's battle can be the start, not the end, of a very long shift in attitudes about the nature of public-private contracts and employment. Of budgeting. Of saying no.

You know what?

They are dead right. This election on June 5th is more critical than any other political event this year, because it will impact every other that follows, either positively or negatively, for Republicans. Walker wins, and wins big, the "crack" in the Blue Wall grows exponentially. Walker loses...

Well, make sure that doesn't happen. Today is Super Saturday, an event Walker supporters are using to contact even more voters and continue the incredible work they have been doing since this battle began. If you live in the state, do your damn job and help. If you don't, donate. Or I will come to your house and beat you with a cactus.

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posted by CAC at 12:08 PM

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